California Ice Climbing & Backcountry Skiing Report - Jan 3rd

Here's the climbing & backcountry skiing condition report for January 3rd... Happy New Year! A huge winter storm is rolling into the Sierra! We are looking at a very wet and snowy forecast for the Sierra Nevada in the next 6 days. Two major storms are rolling in and expected to dump 4-6 feet at higher elevations. In addition, the ice in the Eastern Sierra has been growing dramatically and should get even better with more moisture coming. 

Welcome to our weekly climbing and backcountry skiing report for the state of California. Our goal is to provide a weekly single source of climbing and skiing conditions around the state. We hope you stay tuned!

Backcountry Skiing & Boarding

Eastern Sierra

Backcountry skiing in the Eastern Sierra was variable last week. The hunt for cold snow became more difficult but it was still possible to find some decent snow on North facing tree slopes out of the wind. But most everywhere else was wind hammered. In addition, lots of obstacles below  9000 ft. Our guides found some decent powder snow on the North east side of Dunerberg Peak yesterday out of the Virginia Lakes area. 

BUT....that is supposed to change dramatically like tonight. The two major winter storms rolling in are expected to dump copious amounts of snow throughout the entire Sierra. The first storm is expected to be cold which is welcome and should give us a base down to the lower trailheads. The second storm over the weekend may come in much warmer, but how much warmer remains to be seen. We could see some rain below 8000 ft. 

Mammoth Crest 10,000 ft NOAA Weather Forecast
Eastern Sierra Guided Backcountry Skiing

some fun turns in the trees on dunderberg peak

some fun turns in the trees on dunderberg peak



Fun skiing was reported around Castle Peak area as well as off the Mount Rose Highway. The trick was to find more sheltered areas with less obstacles. Like elsewhere, Tahoe just needs more snow to realize it's full potential. And it's going to get it! 4-6 feet of snow at higher elevations is predicted in the next 6 days with significant lake level snow during the first round in next few days. The second major storm over this weekend looks to be a lot warmer at least initially with lake level rain then turning to snow, but how much rain remains the question. Whatever happens, things are changing for the better in Tahoe! 

Castle Peak (Donner Summit) 7500 ft NOAA Weather Forecast

Mount Shasta

Snow, snow, and more snow. It's incredible how much snow Shasta has been receiving. The fire hose just won't stop. The biggest problem now for skiers is waiting for a break from the storms to actually get out in it. Castle Lake and Bunny Flat roads are currently open, but of course that can change during storms as those roads are not the counties first priority. 

Mount Shasta 8500 ft NOAA Weather Forecast


California Avalanche Advisories & Observations

Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (Observations only)

Bridgeport Avalanche Center (Northern High Sierra)

Sierra Avalanche Center (Lake Tahoe Area)

Mount Shasta Avalanche Center


Backcountry Yurt AIARE Level One Avalanche Course

Ice Climbing

Lee Vining & June Lake Ice Climbing

Ice Climbing in the Eastern Sierra is excellent!  With lots more water coming this week and then hopefully lower temps later next week, expect it to get even better. There is a warmer storm rolling in over this coming weekend with the potential for rain, but we do not see that affecting the ice much as it is only a few days of warmer temps before they drop again. The ice everywhere is fat enough to withstand a few days of rain. And a bit of rain will actually help with the ice growth once temps drop again. One thing to be careful about is potential avalanche danger in Lee Vining canyon this coming weekend with tons more snow and then rain on top of it. 

Lee Vining continues to be fat throughout and still growing. Plenty of room for lots of ropes at Chouinard and many lines on Main Wall are fat. The lines that formed in the Narrows on the approach got pretty thin last week with some warmer temps. The approach itself got a bit better during the week, but is still very tricky. 

Roadside ice in June Lake still growing. Maybe the best we've ever seen in years. The road is still open so you can drive right up to the ice climbs, but that is sure to change by tomorrow. CalTrans closes this road pretty quickly during a storm. Just means you'll have to walk the entire 300 yards from the road closure. 

June Lake's Horsetail Falls still fat. The North Gully up the right of horse tail falls is in great shape as well, 

Lee Vining Canyon Ice 8000 ft NOAA Weather Forecast
Ice Cimbing Classes...winter 2016/17


Alpine Climbing

High Sierra Climbing

Out guides just got back from a winter mountaineering trip up on Matterhorn Peak in the Sawtooth Ridge out of Bridgeport. They summited the peak in windy and clear conditions on Sunday and reported easy travel and snow shoe conditions all the way up from the trailhead. Like everywhere else, big changes are coming of course.  



Palisades 12,000 ft NOAA weather forecast

Mount Shasta Climbing

Full, and we mean FULL, winter conditions. It's just skiing up on Mount Shasta.

Mount Shasta 12,000 ft NOAA weather forecast

Rock Climbing

Joshua Tree

There was some good climbing conditions last week.  This week looks to be mixed with some showers and chilly day time highs, but still some climbable days.

Joshua Tree, Hidden Valley Campground NOAA Weather Forecast

Eastern Sierra

Owens River Gorge climbing was great last week on most days. However, I wouldn't plan on a trip this coming week or weekend. The winter storm warning is extending all the way down to the Gorge during mid week and rain is expected over the weekend. 

Owens River Gorge NOAA Weather Forecast
Mammoth Lakes 9000 ft NOAA Weather Forecast


We are done with Yosemite rock climbing reports for the season.

Yosemite Valley NOAA Weather Forecast
Tuolumne Meadows 8600 ft NOAA Weather Forecast